Bishop Ough: Be transformed to lead in a changing world

May 30, 2013

By: Amanda Yanchury

In his first episcopal address to Minnesota United Methodists, Bishop Bruce R. Ough challenged clergy and lay members to become bold spirit-leaders.

Bishop Ough greeted Minnesotans, reminding them that he hails from North Dakota, and that he and his wife, Char, “were raised on Vikings football and Twins baseball.”

“It is always good to come home,” Bishop Ough said. “I believe with all of my heart, mind, and soul that God has called me to join you here in Minnesota so that together we can advance our common mission of making disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the world.”

Bishop Ough said God has placed God’s hand on the Minnesota Conference for something special—to be a powerful, fruitful mission movement.

“Are we ready?” Bishop Ough asks. “Are we ready to do something special?”

Bishop Ough reminded members that Pentecost shifted the world from being exclusive to being inclusive. Suddenly, everyone could understand everyone else.

“The Holy Spirit ‘whooshed’ in and turned the world upside down and inside out, and everyone knew that everything had changed,” Bishop Ough said. “We live in such a time. Everything is changing; our heads are spinning, like those present for the first Pentecost.”

Information technology, populations, jobs, cultures, and the church are all shifting at lightning speed.

“So, now what do we do?”

How do we reach a constantly changing world? This is our adaptive challenge, Bishop Ough says. We need to “passionately and respectfully offer Christ in a Wesleyan way that speaks to our cultural context.”

To do this, he says, we must be nimble, innovative, and experimental. We must learn together, and learn from each other. We will “sing to the Lord a new song!” (Isaiah 42:10).

“So,” the bishop asks members again. “Are we ready?”

Our Gospel imperatives demand we reach new people, cultivate spiritual vitality, and heal a broken world. How can the annual conference equip, resource, support, and encourage churches in fulfilling these imperatives?

  • We will become more focused and targeted in providing resources and training
  • We will give less time to maintenance ministry and more time to fostering innovation
  • We will spend less time ‘putting out fires’ and more time celebrating Holy Spirit interruptions and breakthroughs
  • We will spend less time teaching people to run the church, and more time teaching people how to be the church
  • We will not live in the past, but anticipate and imagine the future
  • We will spend more time nurturing God-sized dreams
  • We will spend less time being experts and more time becoming an adaptive, learning community
  • We will redirect the conference’s financial and personnel resources toward building the missional capacity of our congregations

“Missional” means to focus on God’s purposes for Christ’s mission,” Bishop Ough said. “It means to embrace and align our work so we can turn outward and engage the world with a burning desire to offer Christ and have a transforming impact.”

Key vision pathways

Four vision pathways that will help the conference and churches increase missional capacity:

  • Developing missional leaders: focusing on creating a ‘culture of call’
  • Equipping missional congregations: building capacity by creating new places for new people; providing resources and training for existing congregations
  • Extending our missional impact: Providing avenues for congregations to more effectively utilize the United Methodist connection to transform their communities and the world
  • Generating missional resources: Generating the financial resources necessary to create and sustain our leadership development, congregational vitality, and missional impact initiatives

Focus on ‘heart transformation,’ Bishop Ough says. “A movement to transform the world must begin with the movement of God within the heart and soul of the individual. This is the first step in being unleashed as bold spirit-leaders!”

“Most importantly,” Bishop Ough said, “Bold spirit-leaders pray. We hoist our prayer-sails into God’s mighty, ever-present Spirit-wind.”

“Whoosh” has happened, and will happen again. As times change, we can adapt and grow, and become unleashed leaders to fulfill Jesus’ imperatives.

“Come and join the New Life prayer movement,” Bishop Ough said. “Invite the Holy Spirit in to break through and renew and revive our churches, unleashing new life!”.

Amanda Yanchury is communications assistant for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

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